gun violence

Extra Funding, Resources to Go to Cities, Towns Experiencing Increase in Gun Violence

NBC Connecticut

Cities and towns that are seeing an increase in violence, auto thefts and overdoses will be given extra funding and more resources, Governor Ned Lamont announced at a news conference on Monday.

During the pandemic, officials said it seemed like there would be a slowdown in violence, but it has since rebounded.

"Connecticut is one of the safest places in the country, but we are not immune. Other cities and states, our violence is spiking, gun-related violence," Lamont said. 

In some places, they said it rebounded sharply.

"Much of the impact of the pandemic had an effect on health economic, job, housing, impact on youth, dislocation from after school activity, in-person schooling, dislocation from the support young people need to thrive in their community," said Marc Pelka, the Undersecretary of Criminal Justice Policy and Planning at the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management.

According to Pelka, in Connecticut 56-percent of gun violence victims are black and young black men are 39 times more likely to be slain by a gun.

"Those individuals see the impact of bullets on bodies, that rip through disproportionately black and brown bodies," Pelka said.

While the country was dealing with the increase in violence, officials said there was another crisis and accidental overdose deaths increased with fentanyl comprising most of those deaths.

Lamont said he is making resources available to municipalities dealing with an increase in violence, auto thefts and overdoses. He said $5 million from CARES Act funding will be made available as quickly as possible.

According to Lamont, the state wants to expand community outreach to neighborhoods dealing with tension, conflict, retaliation and drugs, increase availability and access to real-time data, funding for DNA testing so it can be done quicker, funding for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to help determine what drugs are causing overdoses and also deploy specialized officers to address special/unique needs.

"For each victim of gun violence, there are scores of others directly and indirectly affected- mothers fathers, sister, brothers, children," said St. Francis Hospital Chief of Trauma Stephanie Montgomery. 

A 24/7 testing site is going to be opening in Meriden and a second one will be opening in Waterbury, officials said. The kiosks can test DNA rapidly and violent crime testing can be done in as little as three hours, they added.

Another 24/7 testing site will open in Meriden that can take casings from cities and a mobile unit will also be created so it can be tested quickly, according to officials.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said police are solving crimes in a rate we haven't seen in many years, but the goal isn't to just solve, but rather prevent.

"As we continue to fight this fight to keep our community safe, we say this has to be treated with the same level of urgency, time and commitment as we tackled the Covid pandemic," Bronin said. 

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